Fascinate (Chris Johnson) bounds to victory in the Great Easter Stakes.
In the late autumn of her seven-year-old season, under-rated Otago mare Fascinate claimed the biggest win of her career with a 34-to-one upset in today’s Listed Daphne Bannan Memorial Great Easter Stakes at Riccarton.
The daughter of Falkirk was already a nine-race winner who had more than $150,000 in prize-money for owner-breeders Brian and Lorraine Anderton and Parr Bloodstock and trainers Brian and Shane Anderton, but a second placing behind stablemate Coulee in last year’s Gr. 3 South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes was her only piece of black type.
Today she changed that in style. After jumping well from the inside gate with Chris Johnson in the saddle, she took up a handy position just behind the leaders La Fille En Jeu and Zawhip.
Johnson angled the mare across their heels in the straight and Fascinate accelerated sharply, sprinting to a clear lead 150 metres from the finish.
Kolonel Kev ran on late from midfield, closely pursued by Fascinate’s stablemate Raise You Ten, but Fascinate was home free and scored easily by three and a half lengths.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Shane Anderton said. “She won well at Riverton the other day and she had trained on really well.
“She’s always been a pretty smart animal, so it was great for her to finally get a good one. It was a great ride from Chris and she got the job done.”
The late-blooming Fascinate has now had 39 starts for 10 wins, six placings and more than $183,000 in prize-money. Eight of those wins and more than $169,000 of those earnings have come from 23 starts over the last two seasons.
Anderton was also pleased with the performance of today's third placegetter Raise You Ten, the winner of last year’s Gore Guineas.
“It was a great run and he’ll be a better horse next season,” Anderton said.
The favourite for the race was Nigel Auret’s mare La Fille En Jeu, who was chasing a hat-trick of stakes wins following her classy performances in the South Island Breeders’ Stakes and Easter Cup. She was quickly headed in the straight today by Fascinate, but stuck on bravely and was just pipped for third place by a long head.